Fishing in crisis, say SNP councillors

SNP councillors have claimed that many Scottish fishing businesses are days away from bankruptcy due to problems in exporting their catch to the EU.

Friday, 15th January 2021, 12:58 pm
Eyemouth Harbour. Photo: John Peters.

Boats are tied up at Eyemouth and export haulage vehicles are sitting empty.

“The Tory lies about Brexit are now finally coming home to roost. Instead of a sea of opportunities we have a sea of red tape,” said councillor Heather Anderson, the SNP’s deputy group leader on Scottish Borders Council, who briefly served in the European Parliament.

“Scotland didn’t vote for Brexit, we voted to remain. We are now seeing the Brexit consequentials we predicted play out – and it’s devastating for Scotland’s food and drink industry.”

Berwickshire councillor Helen Laing added: “This is devasting for Eyemouth fishermen who are completely reliant on an EU market which no longer exists. DR Collin is the major employer in Eyemouth, and the red tape and delays are losing them over £100,000 per day. No lorries have left the depot since December 29 and it is expected that the normal transit period of 10 hours will be extended to 34 hours.

“That means the langoustine will have to be drowned and frozen, drastically impacting on the value of the product.

“The EU will now look for alternative suppliers. The Tories have utterly failed Scottish fishermen again.”

Councillor Stuart Bell, SNP group leader on the council, said: “We have warned that this would happen for years.”​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

“Johnson’s government treated Brexit as a game, and the Christmas Eve deal, just days before the end of the two-year transition period, left businesses in a perilous situation. It’s simply unforgivable.”

A spokesman for Scotland Food and Drink said: “It has been a dreadful first week for the seafood supply chain trying to navigate new systems and paperwork requirements for exporting to the EU. 

“All our warnings about the lack of preparation time for everyone and the inability to test new systems before going live were sadly prophetic.”

Mrs Anderson, who also runs an organic food business, added “Brexit has removed us from the largest free trade block in the world. Johnson’s deal is the first ever trade deal to increase barriers to trade and restrict access to markets.

“As well as the damage to our previously prized food and drink exports, we are also seeing significant price increases in imports of fresh fruit and veg, along with reductions in range.”